Alpha turns focus to investment banking after absorbing Citibank

Alpha Bank’s appointment of Yiannis Emiris as head of investment and private banking is a sign of the lender’s swing toward investment banking along the lines of Citibank, whose Greek branches Alpha has absorbed.

The appointment of Emiris, the former managing director of state sell-off fund TAIPED, forms part of Alpha’s administrative changes following the completion of its voluntary exit program that has led to the departure of 2,208 employees, including a significant number of senior officials.

In the context of its turn toward investment banking, Alpha is planning the redesign of 50 branches, which along with 20 former Citibank branches will focus on providing major depositors with property and wealth management solutions. The new branches will be branded Alpha Plus and operate according to the Citibank model, while they will be staffed by personnel specialized in investment, bancassurance and other products.

The Citibank model was chosen as the instrument for Alpha’s penetration into investment banking as out of a total of 16,000 wealthy Citibank clients in Greece, about one-third, or some 5,000, had opted for investment products, while the rate at Alpha is just 11 percent (12,000 out of some 120,000 wealthy clients).

Alpha’s policy swing toward investment banking forms part of its management strategy in favor of increasing revenues from commissions, given that demand for loans will likely remain subdued in 2015, while dealing with bad loans continues to deprive the bank of funds and resources despite the stabilization of the creation of such loans.

Alpha’s acquisition of Citibank’s Greek branch network included the bank’s wealth management activities for administered funds of 2 billion euros, including 900 million euros in deposits. This has taken the wealth management funds administered by Alpha to 4.8 billion euros, from 3.7 billion before the transaction.

After the absorption of Citibank’s network and operations is completed, Alpha will focus its efforts on merging the online systems, is a necessary process for the reduction of operating expenditure and serving Citibank’s thousands of clients.

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